Despite the rain showers and winds in the northernmost emirate of Ras Al Khaimah yesterday, horse riders of the ninth edition of the Pink Caravan Ride, PCR, were keen on engaging community members, raising awareness on breast cancer and the importance of early screening to prevent the disease.
The pink brigade began its last trek in the northern emirates at the Higher Colleges of Technology Ras Al Khaimah Women’s College towards Saqr Hospital, where scores of residents and staff members welcomed riders and volunteers into the emirate.
While the pink brigade marched into RAK, daily clinics had their doors open to visitors, offering them free consultations and screening at six daily clinics located at the Saqr, Shaam, RAK, Abdullah bin Omran and Al Dhaid Hospitals, in addition to a clinic at RAK Economic Zone. The Permanent Clinic welcomed visitors at RAK Mall, and will continue its services in the emirate until March 2.
The Pink Caravan Medical Awareness Committee shared the total number of screenings in RAK as 842, which included 792 women and 50 men. These included 161 locals and 681 expatriates, comprising 367 people, who were above 40 years of age, and 475 individuals below 40. After the initial screenings, 406 walk-ins were given the safe card, 333 were referred for a mammogram, and 103 were advised to undergo an ultrasound.
Organised annually by the Friends of Cancer Patients, FOCP, a cancer charity, the pan-UAE initiative has gone from strength to strength, dispelling misconceptions about breast cancer. To boost its outreach, PCR has carefully nurtured the community’s role by engaging thousands of volunteers in their annual campaigns. Many of PCR crew have been on the pink trail since the first ride in 2011.
Bel Pesce, a 31-year-old Brazilian entrepreneur and writer, has been volunteering with PCR since 2017. She got introduced to the FOCP initiative in 2016 and made sure to take part in the annual ride since.
"All my life, I searched for things to nurture my soul, and I show my gratitude by sharing it with the rest of the world. There are a few initiatives that exist to make the world better, PCR is one of them."
Pesce, listed in BBC’s 100 influential women on earth 2015, is amazed by the amount of work put in the initiative. "As an entrepreneur, I am amazed how it is put together, the logistics, operations, teams, it is not an easy task to have this ride planned and organised to perfection. It can only succeed by having a dedicated team who are truly passionate about the cause and have unwavering devotion, and stamina to make PCR what it is today."
The best-selling writer from Brazil is aiming to finish the documentary in 2019 to inspire people around the world to replicate the Pink Caravan Ride in their countries.
Horse riders continued their second leg of the journey from Saqr hospital to Manar Mall, before ending their northernmost trek at the stunning Al Qawasim Corniche, covering a total distance of 14.4km.
For 36-year-old Emirati twins, Hamed and Khaled Al Hamed, volunteering is embedded in their DNA. Hamed has been volunteering with his friends since his teens.
"I have been on the pink trail since its debut ride in 2011. PCR is my home and everyone taking part in it is considered a family member. Every year, we trek in every emirate and we are greeted warmly by residents. It is a beautiful feeling when you know that your work has helped lives.
His 8-month daughter Ameera, is the youngest volunteer in this year’s trek. Khaled, hopped onto the pink trail 4 years ago, to help out his twin brother and contribute in raising awareness of the community.
On Friday, the pink brigade headed to the capital for the final leg of the annual march passing by Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Louvre Museum. The closing ceremony of the 9th edition of the Pink Caravan ride was held at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa.